In the spiritual realm, there is often this notion that healing your inner child is of utmost importance. But while you do need to pay attention to parenting your inner child, you’re now a grown-up. Even though you need to pay attention to your inner child’s needs, you have needs as an adult, too.
It is important to know how to distinguish between those adult needs and those of your inner child. You need to know how to parent your adult self; doing so will help you grow into a mature person.
Don’t get me wrong – what you need more than anything is to link that adult work and the work on your inner child.
Will the work be complete and over? No. But it is essential to know that while you tend to the needs of your inner child, you also need to tend to the needs of your inner adult.
Heal Your Inner Child by Acknowledging Your Adult Needs
As an adult, you have needs, as well, and while those may not be the same in number, depth, and volume as those of the inner child – you certainly have them.
For example, you never stop needing connection, approval, recognition, respect, or communication.
The need for connection is as pure for your inner adult as it is for your inner child.
If you fail to meet those relationship needs by yourself or socially when you connect with others, you won’t be feeling whole – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You will not feel the overwhelming sense of well-being and exuberance that bathes you with happiness, satisfaction, and pleasure, which comes out of growing and working on yourself alongside others.
Your Adult Needs vs. Your Wounded Inner Child Needs
An important thing you learn while you heal your inner child is that your inner child expects to have all their needs met immediately.
This is entirely normal. The child gets out of the mother’s womb. Under the most fortunate of circumstances, it gets fed, pampered, washed, cleaned, and hugged whenever it needs to. It sleeps, eats, and poops all day. Someone else takes care of everything they do.
It is normal for that tiny, gentle being who is totally helpless.
Healing Your Inner Adult with Social Connections
But the inner adult is also so in need of help from others. Adults often feel powerless, incomplete, and split.
Now, we could take the example of certain Indian gurus or Buddhist monks who say that you shouldn’t be attached to your needs. Your ego is the producer of needs. There are no needs.
But we don’t want to – the needs are there and give your life story a meaning.
Needs exist on cellular level, and if you don’t engage in constant inner adult healing, sooner or later they will rear their ugly heads.
What to Do with Needs You Cannot Meet
When you tend to the needs of your inner adult, there are few fundamental lessons you will learn. You won’t have your needs met:
- By others
- By yourself (unfortunately, some of them)
- Ever (tragically, some of the needs, for some people, are never satisfied)
Being accepting of the fact that some of your needs will never be met is a sign of maturity.
For example, you can never get or give forgiveness to someone who died.
This recognition of eternally unmet needs doesn’t mean that you should negate your needs. But you should develop a healthy detachment from the notion that humans here on Earth are sometimes powerless.
If we want to try and live in a mature world, we don’t have someone or even ourselves tend to our every whim.
Grieving your unmet needs is often the only way out.
Inner Adult Needs Deserving of Your Full Attention
There are some crucial needs, and if you forget to take care of them for a long time, your body will suffer and your mind will suffer. Your whole being will not only not be whole but will also be sick.
The needs of the inner adults are not very different from the needs of the inner child. You still need to be fed (in fancy restaurants even), cleaned, taught, accepted, approved, recognized, and connected.
However, while you’re inner child learns how to heal themselves later in life and have their needs met by taking the example from their parents, you are your best example.
At this very moment, unless you find a better example from your environment, you want to tend to your adult needs and journey to wholeness.
Be careful to work on meeting these crucial needs. Because many of us are parents to ourselves as adults, our own children, and the inner child in our inner adult, we put ourselves last.
Fact: you won’t be able to work on healing your inner child unless you meet your needs as an adult. You need a healthy adult to teach a child how to take care of themselves. And you need the same for you as an adult – it is the same person.
That is the way forward concerning needs you can meet yourself.
Inner Child Therapy: Socially Related Needs of Grown-ups
Now, socially recognized needs are not that simple. Some needs, like approval, recognition, and respect, can be viewed as mathematical values that require some sort of social exchange and the existence of another person or society as a system.
When you think about meeting your needs via social interconnections, you need someone else to “give” what you need to you. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. On many occasions, not everyone (or rarely anyone) is willing to do so.
There is one simple but not always welcome or helpful lesson spiritual teachers give you in these circumstances: when there is no one else to love you, hold you, or respect and approve of you (example of needs), you should be your own parent and tend to this yourself.
Remove the word parent out of this need meeting formula. It pulls you out of the center of your own power and splits you into two. If you wish for another interpretation, your parent is a part of your inner adult, and your inner child is part of your inner adult. Focus on your adult to fully consume the parent who simultaneously tends to the inner child’s needs.
You can’t go back in time and be the child again. We only have the current moment. The inner child is still in you, parallel to the inner adult, especially in your spiritual body.
Your material body is physical, in all the grown-up characteristics that distinguish a grown-up person from a child. However, your emotional, mental, spiritual, and ethereal child is still there.
Inner Child Healing: Work in Progress
Very often, this inner child work is taken as something that is done, finished. At one point, once you heal your inner child, you will be complete and wholesome.
Yet, this is ongoing work, so you won’t always be able to do so in the perfect manner.
That’s the beauty about being a human. We are not ideal or perfect.
We are colorful, dynamic, and bursting of love, vibrant energy beings – all that makes life on this Earth plane worth living and beautiful.
You won’t be able to meet all of your needs by yourself – give up. You absolutely need someone else to tend to them. We live in a socially connected world, and many of those needs are relational – that is another part of the beauty of living in this world.
Just imagine how terrifying, even unthinkable, would be that concept of living in a world in which you live by yourself alone and isolated!
Have you watched a “Twilight Zone” episode in which the main character is a guy who works at the bank? He secretly reads books at the counter and annoys his customers and his boss.
All he thinks about is reading books. He wants to have all the time in the world to do that because books give him immense pleasure. And, oh, if only his clients and his job weren’t there, he would be the happiest person in the world!
So it happens. There is this cataclysm, perhaps an earthquake, a catastrophe, a meteorite strikes the Earth. He is the only person left alive in the world.
But, alas – this guy wears glasses. Without them, he is almost blind. While walking on the shatterings of the world around him – on the remainings of the buildings – he accidentally drops and steps on his glasses. They are gone, and so is his passion for reading, and, it is safe to say, his life (although we don’t see that in this episode – it is only implied).
Such terror only happens in the “Twilight Zone”: something so devastating, so surprising to the viewer and the main character that nothing is more frightening.
That feeling of being completely disconnected and isolated refers to the importance of relational needs. Books are this character’s connection. The fact that he’s not able to connect to something outside of himself is a nightmare.
So you need others to have the needs of your inner adult met, as well.
Why You Need Others for Inner Adult Healing
Lectures by spiritual teachers that say you can meet all your needs yourself or learn to love yourself so that others can love you back are only partially true.
You learn how to love yourself from others (take love as an example of a need, there are others on which you can apply the same metaphor).
Maybe it’s not froom your parents or caretakers, but you see examples around you:
- Your intuition
- Teacher that knows how to love
- Another grown-up, a mentor, someone you can look up to
- Role model, or even
- Book character who knows how to tend to their needs.
When you love yourself, it’s not the same as when someone else loves you. The same goes for all other needs, especially the socially related such as accomplishment, respect, and dignity.
To illustrate, you can say you can respect yourself, but that doesn’t encapsulate the whole meaning of the term respect.
Maybe you can take care of yourself and tend to the needs that define you as a singular person. But you can’t address your social person and, in turn, the needs of the inner adult without the existence of other people, too.
Your Inner Child Has the Power to Make Social Change
Most importantly, please don’t accept that it is only your responsibility to meet your needs. Our societal systems are often set up to fail to meet many of our needs and then transfer responsibility to individuals by throwing at us flawed wisdom.
Sometimes, it is not only about shifting the inner perspective or doing an internal change or adjustment. Frequently, you can heal your inner adult by doing external change. Take action.
That is the power of the adult – to act upon their environment as no child can.
To summarize, you desperately need your inner adult to heal your inner child. That’s why inner child therapy is also a work on healing the inner adult.